Blog 7 Tips For Startups & Small Businesses: Affordable Marketing In 2021

The hardest thing to do when starting a small business is reaching potential customers. Starter and small businesses are typically left in a predicament- they have a great idea but no brand awareness or current customers. No existing customers leave you with little to spend on a marketing strategy, which inevitably stunts your progress. How do you get through the hump and reach your community at a low cost? We have a few inexpensive marketing ideas that will help your local business find paying customers without a giant initial investment.

Starter Sites & Listings

The first two things you need for effective marketing in your local community are business listings and a website. These two elements are imperative because there is no better way to inform and reach your clients/customers online. A professional website may be out of your budget, but you don’t necessarily need a $20,000 website to get started and the most effective business listings are free. Here’s what websites and local business listings have to offer:


In a world that’s powered by the internet, most of your potential customers are online, and they tend to trust businesses more if they are too. There are website designers that work for all types of budgets, and while you may have to do some sorting, many of them do great work. Spending between $350 and $1,000 can get you started on online marketing, with the option of improving your website as it becomes more affordable. Creating a business website lets you:

Inform Potential Clients

With a simple site, you can spread valuable information to your local audience, building trust and establishing brand familiarity.

Generate leads

It won’t happen off the bat, but as you add content and increase your website popularity, it will help you generate leads and find new customers. Search engines will eventually recognize you as the site grows and gets shared, letting you appear in relevant searches.

Share Contact Information

For a local business, the key is spreading your contact information. keeping your website updated with business and contact info will help them reach you in person. You can even link your map location and Google listing to your site.

Display Business Awards

Another helpful attribute that comes with a site is the ability to add badges and business awards. Presenting any certificates, commendations, awards, badges, etc that other local businesses lack will help you stand out to potential customers.

Optimizing Your Site

Optimizing your website is not an easy task, but you can dip your toes into online marketing with simple, free site add-ons. Use plugins like AIO SEO or Yoast to increase the relevance and effectiveness of each web page and you can increase your site’s effectiveness. Once you’re ready, an SEO package can truly optimize your site and amplify your online traffic.

Set Up Your Business Listings

A 2021 list of affordable marketing tips would be incomplete without mentioning business listings. While there are several types of listings that your small business can sign up for, none is more important than your Google my Business listing. It’s free, it’s highly visible, and your Google my Business listing is also the most effective approach to generating calls and website visits for a local business.

90% of searches are through Google, and the search engine’s Maps integration lets local businesses appear for any of these searches that they are relevant for. Before this can happen, however, you need to set up or claim your GMB listing through your Google account. If you have been around for a while, search engines may have already found and started your profile, otherwise, you will need to create your listing.

Setting Up Your Listing

To start using Google my Business, there are a few steps to follow. Begin your profile setup by:

  1. Login to your business email or create one through Google and go to the Google my Business app in the top right corner of your screen.
  2. Search your business name; this is where you will either create or claim your listing.
  3. If your business is already on Google, claim your listing and start adding info. If you have to set one up, follow steps 4 and 5.
  4. To complete a new business listing on Google, you will need to verify your address. Google typically does this by sending a postcard to the business address, but they may give you the option to text, call, email, or video chat, so play it by ear and complete the verification accordingly.
  5. Once you have received and entered your verification code, your new Google my Business profile will be public to potential customers.

For additional help with your Google my Business set up, visit Google’s support page.

Maximize the free Advertisement

Setting up your Google my Business is a great start, but you will need to optimize your account for the best results. To do this, you should remain active on the profile, responding to reviews, inquiries, messages, and calls to signal that you are a relevant, responsive business (Google tracks your timeliness on calls, messages, responses). You should also keep your profile as detailed and updated as possible. You should be posting business pictures, loading your services with detailed info, adding products, and everything else that pertains to your business on the account to ensure that your target audience gets what they need. It also helps Google recognize your authority in relevant categories.

Print Some Business Cards

Advertising media can be expensive, but there’s no reason you can’t print some cards with your business logo and information. As far as low-budget marketing ideas go, business cards are highly cost-effective, running you about $20 for 500 cards. As long as you aren’t feeding them to the crows, your return on investment should be substantial. Not to mention, you can design awesome business cards that are eye-catching and even display services. Outside of letting existing customers disperse the cards and handing them out to new customers, there are plenty of free marketing ideas that pertain to your business cards.

Post On Community Bulletin Boards

Community bulletin boards are found everywhere, from public buildings to restaurants and local businesses. Most community bulletin boards have an area for business cards, a flyer promoting, and other info that can encourage people to pay attention to your advertisement.

Slide Them Under Tables

Lots of local restaurants and businesses will allow you to insert your business card under the top of a table or somewhere else, aiming to show community support. You can use this to find new customers in various settings, just make sure you ask before advertising.

Approach Other Business Owners

You may be surprised at how supportive small business owners are when it comes to helping another small business. Chatting with other local business owners may lead to a plethora of marketing strategies that you never would have thought of, like a mutual customer referral program or shared support on social media channels. Given the chance, many small businesses are happy to help with some free advertising, which will also let you build meaningful relationships in your community.

Ramp Up Your Social Media Presence

It doesn’t matter if you own a restaurant, construction company, pool cleaning service, or design agency, you should be investing some free time into your business’s social media platforms. Your direct competitor is probably on all the social media platforms that you’re not, and doing more too. Digital marketing has pushed small businesses into needing a business-related account on every platform available to avoid missing new customers.

A social media marketing strategy can be as cost-effective as you make it since they are free until you decide to start running ads or paying for social media management. Existing customers can find and follow you, letting you build trust with loyal customers as they are acquired. Socials help you maintain relationships and keep your relevance as a small business in the community.

If you’re ready to spend minimally to get your social media traffic higher, offer incentives to get visitors engaged. Depending on your business, you can offer free products for an online contest, give the chance to win a discount, or present an in-person experience that will entice viewers. Social media contests are a proven way to further your marketing plan and gain more visibility for your small business. You can then use future giveaways to keep your audience interested and following your accounts. This can be incredibly valuable, especially when you start to gain some brand awareness.

Sign Up For Events

It doesn’t matter what niche you are in, local business mixers and events will further your small business marketing. There are endless connections to make in your community, so get out and explore some of them. Depending on the kind of business you have, an unexpected opportunity could always arise.

Local SEO For Your Small Business

Out of all the marketing ideas that you will come by, Local SEO strategies are by far the most advantageous for a small business. An SEO marketing plan can help your site excel and help you drive traffic into your storefront. While they may be a more substantial marketing investment, SEO and digital marketing campaigns prove highly effective, letting small businesses rank over other businesses by using comprehensive strategies and the most relevant content.

SEO takes time, but if you need small business marketing that works, there is no better option. Local SEO dives deeper into your business listings and website to optimize your appearance to search engines and customers. Along with starting a company blog and helping you target relevant keywords on your website, Local SEO experts can improve your overall small business marketing technique and help you drive sales.

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Effective marketing takes time, effort, and energy, but with some searching, you can find plenty of low-budget marketing ideas that will increase your sales and traffic. Have you tried handing out free products or a free sample of what you have to offer? Have you done a social media contest, or even set up your profiles? There is always more that you can do, from Facebook ads to adding business awards to your profile to hiring an SEO expert. Take your pick and try multiple marketing ideas to broaden your horizon.